I'm Not "Forever Alone" Because Online Dating Isn't Actually Dating

I'm Not "Forever Alone" Because Online Dating Isn't Actually Dating

Being single is both a choice and a circumstance.

Dating culture is saturated by online dating apps, flirtatious aims sent via a carefully and cleverly crafted text message, and the need for a relationship, hookup, or something in between. Dating used to be a nice chat over coffee or lunch, but now it's more like working for the FBI. Swipe right on the functioning members of society and left on those most likely to star on "Catfish".

The tragicomedy of being single is both easy and difficult to show and tell. Some even fear being single into their thirties or what is somehow considered "forever alone" territory. There is nothing epidemic about not having a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on. Being single is more of a chance for you to get to know yourself better.

This isn't another one-sided swinging single's rant about living solo. I got game, sometimes. Over the course of two years, after I discovered dating apps for the first time, I managed to match with five women. My first experience was on Bumble, one of these women ghosted me, two showed interest but managed to ghost me without ever deleting the match with me.

The conversations were fun and light but started to feel like empty promises of the people we sounded like we could be if we met in person. "If" was the strongest qualifier for that sexy characteristic called "mysterious." When you're online, everyone's mysterious. The whole point of dating online is to solve that mystery together offline.

I never met the women I matched with on Bumble despite my attempts to suggest and start first dates. As a natural response to the artificial formality I received or didn't receive in return, I decided to burn the candle at both ends and joined Tinder. My matches on Tinder were like finding a file folder you don't remember the name of in a 512 gigabyte USB that has one gigabyte of free space left. Unpacking who they are is the least of your worries, it's their intentions that are unclear. I found out on my first two dates.

My one and only Tinder date turned out to be the girl pictured and described. She wore one of the blouses in her pictures which was a big help spotting her in a crowd. When we met for the first time, I didn't know whether to greet her with a hug or a handshake, and being the bookish and sheepish person that I am, I did neither.

I thought either action was moving too fast or informal or assertive because I just met her and I didn't want to or mean to come off as rude or unapproachable. The only girl I ever hugged was my sister and it was always a gymnastics hug, which is a one-arm hug from the side or an air hug with heads averted. She also went in for a hug and all I did was talk to her as I watched her arms go down and her smile starting to dim.

Her personality was friendly at first but it was quickly commandeered by her feminist leanings. I don't bash the positive pursuits of feminism but almost every part of her conversation supported and harked back to being a feminist.

She would repeat my agreements to make them her own affirmations which made it hard to pinpoint her personality. The conversation felt one-sided, self-affirming, self-assertive, very my-way-or-the-highway.

When we had differences of opinion over mundane things like food, she would move on to a new opinion waiting for yet another agreement and affirmation combo. Even my word choice was found to be unreasonably questionable when I asked her what her "impression" was studying abroad for a semester.

I took her out for coffee because her profile says she likes coffee, she says she likes coffee, that much still checks out. By the time we placed our orders, I'm starting to think like a feminist or what a feminist might think. Instead of paying for her coffee and my coffee on one bill, I assumed she would want to pay for herself.

Chivalry could not have dropped dead any faster. She went silent until we sat down to continue the date but I could tell she wasn't the dating type when she told me, "I don't need someone to make me happy." That's what happy people say I guess.

Bumble works great for shy guys like me. However, the expectations and responsibility feels weighted against men who are not only shy but who actually want to start and have a relationship. Women should have a say in who they match with but I think giving women all the say runs the risk of missing out on not only the match they want but the match that is right for them.

Shy or not shy, gauging who someone is in 500 characters or less is an invitation for miscommunication and misread intentions.

The second date I had was with a girl I met through Facebook. She thought I was someone she saw, she noticed I liked books, and one fairy tale later she ghosts me. We dated for four months and again, the expectations were not considerate. The lunches and dinners were no longer food for thought, the shows of affection were falsely reciprocated.

My second date was the girl who said she wanted to be my girlfriend. The same girl who was proud to say she was my first kiss before I could say so. She was the girl I said I love you to, who could only love sparingly due to her daunting background. I was not worth sparing. The Valentine's Day gift I gave her, a Game of Thrones necklace I bought from Etsy, did not give her any reason to wear it.

I'm not on any dating app today and I don't think I'll be on one anytime soon. Besides the obvious superficial sales pitch of your personality, astrological sign, and your likes and dislikes, online dating feels as lazy as grammar in an AOL chat room. For someone who was trying to find a mutual and exclusive relationship, the effort is inexcusable and almost unrealistic.

I understand that everyone is cooler online, you don't need Brad Paisley to tell me that. I just don't think "cooler" is the right word for online behavior. Your Facebook feed is 90% political and activist blogs and videos, but does this highlight or shadow who you really are? It's one thing to show you are all these things, but it is another to tell it.

Social media has a number of effects that produce negative behaviors and can translate to our offline or social behaviors. Studies from BBC Future show that relationships are in jeopardy due to a lack of attention to their partner and a need to be on their phones. On top of addiction, self-esteem, envy, compulsion, loneliness and exclusion are also negative habits born from social media.

I gathered some Bumble profiles from my own personal swiping sessions and the evidence is damning.

"All you need to know." "Wanna know more?" This sounds passive-aggressive. Also, a girl who loves dogs, making stupid jokes, and Drake sounds like any and every other girl. Remember, diversifying is a turn on (for me at least.)

I can't decide if this is as little information as possible or no information at all. The fact that we're using a dating app, or rather an app in order to date, is superficial enough. If you're going to let one image decide your dating life, than you're right: this isn't going to work out.

Yes, it's ironic how people know everything about themselves yet can't find the words to express who they are, but not as ironic as you not telling me anything about yourself because you used up the character limit.

Travel and risk a 90 Day Fiancé situation? No thank you.

Using social media with more social media. It doesn't get any more exclusionary and aloof than this.

You get the idea.

I promised myself I would never find a relationship exclusively through a computer. No computer is ever personal and the least human that contact can be is over the phone. At least then you get to hear the sarcasm in a person’s voice rather than having to sit there trying to figure out that the person you’re texting to isn’t angry with you, based on their terse word choice.

Dating is hard enough without emojis and clever flirts you have actual time to think of. It’s just a bad time when you end up texting each other from across the table. How are dates kept alive anymore? Online dating or dating online means staying online, that is unless you show interest in meeting offline.

By the time that interest is reciprocated and you face your date for the first time, the experience becomes otherworldly. New dating apps have been created in the past and no doubt will keep being made to fit your definition of a date, like Wugo does. Maybe all these dating apps are lining a Russian's pockets instead.

Technology is supposed to make things better but I didn’t know how much of a detraction it could be. That’s how technology works though. Like any machine, it requires initial human contact and not long after you use it, it can start to abuse you. Machines are amoral after all; you get out what you put in and vice versa.

Single life doesn't mean you haven't found someone nor does it mean you're not going to. Dating online, just like social media, has the potential to complicate who you are and who others are. Sometimes it feels like a people-buffet that offers the same helpings swipe after swipe but I won't allow myself to be served on the same platter.

I'm single because I choose to be who I am, I choose to be myself whether I'm offline or online. I believe in dating more than I do online dating, but I also believe in online dating as far as it can take us on a date offline. Here's to seeing and being you.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Clayton

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I've Stopped Wearing My Purity Ring

Hint: It's not because I've gotten engaged and not because I've broken my commitment.


When I was 14, my mom and I listened to an audio series on purity and the importance of God's design for sex to occur exclusively within marriage. She and I talked at length about how sex involves literally becoming one flesh with the other person (1 Corinthians 5:15-16), and how it is very emotionally painful to separate yourself from someone after this uniting of souls has occurred. I committed with my whole heart to God that I would live His way and wait until marriage to have sex.

When my mom and I had finished listening to the series, she gave me a pretty gold buckle ring, which had belonged to her for years, for me to wear on my left ring finger until I got an engagement ring someday.

It did look like a wedding ring and was a little bit too big, so a couple years later, I replaced it with a James Avery Heart Knot ring. I wore it for six years, including for the entirety of my relationship with the one serious boyfriend I've had.

When I was in high school, almost every other girl I knew had a ring like mine. Gradually, as we moved through college, some of them were replaced with engagement rings. Others were put aside because their owners no longer felt that the commitments these rings represented were an accurate reflection of where they were in life.

Then there's a third group, and if you haven't guessed yet, I am included. In God's providence and love, it is not because we are engaged or married; and by His grace alone, it is not because we have had sex. I still remain as committed as ever to the promise I made God when I was 14 to glorify Him with my body as much as is within my power. So why don't I like that cute little silver ring that looks like a pretzel anymore?

Most of us have seen this article floating around, "Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos."

I hate that article.

First of all, it's just plain wrong—you'll notice that being a debt-free virgin without tattoos hasn't stopped me from being as single as the Pope. God's will for bringing His children together is so much bigger than these three petty things. One of my friends of whom none of the above is true is in a beautiful and Christ-honoring marriage. It isn't her fault she didn't become a Christian until after she'd had sex or that her family couldn't pay for college.

Secondly, none of those things would be true of me were it not for the particular blessings of being from a financially well-off family, having been raised Christian, never having dated a guy who pressured me for sex, and then the personal preference of just not really wanting a tattoo. The fact that these qualities are either subjective or outside our control is troubling enough, but most troubling is this idea of virginity as a commodity, a bargaining chip, a resume item, a trophy.

Yes, sex before marriage is a sin. But there is no other sin that we wear a ring for not having committed. I don't have a "Haven't Stolen Anything" ring or a "Haven't Murdered Yet" ring. Why should I wear a "Haven't Had Premarital Sex" ring?

I have moreover become convinced that I don't deserve to wear my purity ring anymore, as I have broken my commitment to remain pure until marriage. In fact, I break it almost every time I see an attractive shirtless guy if we are being thoroughly transparent.

In the words of our Savior in Matthew 5:28,

"But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Jesus does care what we do with our bodies; there is no question of that. But He cares about our hearts too, and this is what the purity ring concept loses track of. Obedience includes things like not having sex until marriage, not stealing, and not murdering, to be sure, but it goes so much further than that. Lust, covetousness, and hatred are just as sinful as pre/extramarital sex, theft, and murder.

Thus, we all stand equally condemned, hopelessly wicked, and without excuse before the burning, holy wrath of Justice. Virgins are not better than people who have had sex. In God's perfect love, He has provided His sinless Son to take the punishment for the sins of His people, no matter what their past held, be it lust or premarital sex, covetousness or theft, hatred or murder, all of the above, or anything else. His blood is strong enough to wash all of it away. We were equal in our desperate wickedness before, and we are equal in His righteousness after.

So with all of this in mind, tell me why I should wear a symbol of one sin I haven't committed, even when I have committed so many others, when I was condemned to hell same as everybody else, when I was rescued by the blood of Jesus same as everybody else, when I am forgiven through Him same as everybody else, when I still sin and need my High Priest to plead my cause day and night, same as everybody else? If I haven't committed one sin, what meaning could that possibly have when I've committed thousands of others?

If I am on trial for murder, should the judge care that I've never gotten a speeding ticket? Would it not work against me that I'd even think that would count for something? If I brought up that I have never exceeded the speed limit while on trial for murder, would it do anything in the world besides emphasize that I don't understand the severity of my crime?

Says Isaiah 64:6,

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (KJV)

I'm not trying to downplay the importance of waiting for marriage. The Bible is clear on it, and it brings great glory to God when His people joyfully submit to His commands. But if you have not had sex, and take pride in that and boast in it, then you don't yet understand how grave an offense your other sins are to a holy God; and if you have had sex and can't escape your guilt, then you don't yet understand what a powerful sin-soap the blood of Jesus is. If you are in Christ, your sin is nailed to the cross, dead, gone, cast as far from you as the east is from the west. As long as Jesus stands in heaven, no one can hold your past sins against you, least of all a judgmental and theologically weak woman on Facebook.

Someone asked me when I told them why I don't wear my purity ring anymore if I was worried guys (potential boyfriends, I presume) might think I'm not a virgin. No, I'm not concerned about that at all, and here's why. The kind of man I want won't care what specifically I have and haven't done in the past, no more than I care or have any right to ask which sins Jesus forgave him.

I don't care whether pornography is in his past, as long as it isn't in his present or future. I don't care if sex outside marriage is in his past, as long as it's not in his present or future. In a similar way, he will care much more whether or not Jesus Christ is the King of my life and whether I am actively being sanctified, building the Church, and learning more about Jesus daily. I try to make all those things true of myself, but the truth is, there are a lot of girls who have had sex in the past who are doing a lot better job than I am. Let them think I'm not a virgin, let them know that I am a more vile and wretched sinner than every girl I know who's had sex, as long as they see the power of the work wrought by Christ in me.

The concept behind the purity ring is dreadfully, unforgivably ignorant of the Gospel. I wouldn't question your salvation for wearing a purity ring, but I myself don't feel good about it in light of the above reasons. There are a lot of things we can do that are not necessarily wrong, but may be misleading or give others the wrong idea. These are a matter of individual conviction, and I feel that purity rings are among them. It is good to teach young people not to have sex before marriage, but it is imperative to teach them the rest of the story, lest they wander off into the weeds and think that's all there is to it, as I have been guilty of doing in the past. There are more dangers in purity culture than I have time to list, and loving simplicity as I do, I prefer to avoid all of it, rather than pawing through the bathwater in search of a baby.

"When Christians concentrate on the exterior – on things which can be redeemed, restored, and overcome – they present a version of Christianity that is both HOPELESS and POWERLESS. This article will cause a stir. But it will draw no one to Jesus. If anything, it will depict Him as the unapproachable God so many already assume Him to be. I'm here to tell you: You can be a debt-free virgin without tattoos and far from the heart of Christ. Your appearance and bank account and sexual history do not earn you favor in God's eyes. By grace alone, we are saved, and that is GOOD NEWS for the debt-free virgin and the tattooed college graduate alike. Because with Jesus, there is always hope. There is always redemption. There is purity unearned, unmerited, yet freely given.

This is the scandal of grace: We come empty and inadequate, but He doesn't leave us there.

God is holy, and when you truly follow Him, you'll desire holiness and freedom, too. But you don't have to clean yourself up before you get there. God does that for you."

-Phylicia Masonheimer, "God's Not Looking For Debt Free Virgins"

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